Māori UFC fighter overcomes bullying with martial arts

By Regan Paranihi

Māori UFC fighter Kaiwhare Kara-France is set to make a return to the octagon next month against Mark De La Rosa in China.  

The Tainui fighter will compete in the flyweight division on 31 August at Shenzhen Arena and, with two UFC wins under his belt, he hopes to add this next fight to his winning streak.

"He's a durable and tough opponent but I just feel like I'll be one step ahead," says Kara-France, "With Eugene in my corner and the rest of the coaching staff, we're going to prepare as best we can but I feel like I'm going to have too much [of an] arsenal in my toolbox for him to handle."

His successful career began during a trying time in his teens- he says he wouldn't be where he is now without it.

"I used to get bullied in high school so my parents got me into jujitsu mixed martial arts just to instill confidence in myself. And, here we are now, 2 and 0 in the UFC, ranked top 10 in the UFC and if the bullies never got me down to the gym I would have never been doing this, so now they're my biggest fans."

He says martial arts is more than just a sport, it's an avenue that helps instill many life lessons for those involved.

"Martial arts instilled all those things.  As a young man, you need to learn self-confidence, discipline, accountability, the way you hold yourself."

Many sacrifices and risks come with the sport but Kara-France says he's happy he stuck to his guns.

"It's nice knowing that all those risks that I took back when I was growing up have all paid off.  This is my dream and this is what I'm doing and I'm living it."

Kara-France is excited and ready to get in the UFC arena and give it his all for his family, friends and country.

"I want to go out there and put on a show, not just for my gym City Kickboxing, but for New Zealand and represent my country on that world stage."

He hopes that the UFC will eventually come to New Zealand so he can fight on his home turf.